Our Year in Review series continues as we take a look at how Lucas Duda contributed to the Mets’ starting lineup in 2012. Entering his third season with the New York Mets, Duda was projected by many analysts to be a “sleeper” in terms of the offensive production the 26-year-old right-handed power bat could bring to a powerless offensive lineup. However, Duda struggled from time-to-time in 2012, and it is because of this some may wonder if he will have another opportunity to shine in 2013 for the Mets.
How he handled his bat offensively in 2012
In 2012, Duda played in 121 games, and compiled 57 RBIs to go along with 15 home runs. All of which are career-highs in Duda’s short three-year career at the Major League level. Needless to say, none of the numbers Duda posted up this season truly standout, as he had a subpar year compared to the season many projected he would have. Although most notably known for his power, Duda struggled during a stretch of the season, he was ultimately demoted in hopes of redeveloping his swing in the minors. At the time of his demotion, Duda hit only .190 with a mere seven RBIs in over a span of six weeks. Towards the end of the season, Duda was recalled back to Major Leagues, despite, the organization not being pleased with the fact that Duda continued to struggled during his time at the Triple-A level — hitting .260 with eight RBIs in 25 games — with Triple A-Buffalo. To top off Duda’s struggles, Terry Collins elected to remove Duda from the game on September 21st, against the Marlins, after failing to hustle on the base path after hitting a bloop single to left field.
How he handled the glove defensively in 2012
Duda is a natural first baseman, but because of the fact Ike Davis is currently on the team, and the organization’s instilled belief that Duda could develop into a legitimate power threat, Duda was moved to the outfield while still being given the opportunity to start everyday. That move came at a steep price as Duda’s inexperience of playing in the outfield strongly showed as it is easy to tell what a big defensive liability he was for the team during the 2012 season. He was so bad of a liability on the defensive end in the outfield, that once he was recalled in September, it was publicly noted that he would see more playing time at first base while facing lefties.
Projected Role in 2013
Given his performance in 2012, it is still unclear to me what Duda’s ultimate role will be with the 2013 Mets. Given how weak the Mets outfield was this season, I expect and hope for Alderson to look for options outside of the organization — most likely via the trade market — to boost the team’s overall production from the outfield. With that being said, I don’t know if Alderson will acquire another right fielder to replace Duda’s inadequate production. What makes things tougher for Duda is the fact that the Mets already have a solid option at the first base position with Ike Davis, who is coming off his first 30+ home run season along with showing the ability to be a top quality defensive first baseman. Now if Davis is moved during the off-season, then most likely Duda will be given another opportunity, but time at his natural position.
Contract Status/Trade Rumors
Duda is still in his pre-arbitration eligible years, and is coming off a year where he made $497,000 dollars. The organization has not given up on his potential, but if Duda fails to show any strides in his development next season — assuming that he is back with the club next year — Duda could very well see himself as a full-time minor leaguer. I have no doubt that Duda — along with just about everyone else on the team is on the trading block — as this current team has multiple holes to fill. My question is rather how much value would a guy like Duda has coming off a down year like 2012? There is no question that many teams would in fact inquire about a guy like Davis, but it is hard to part ways with a young, affordable talent with power. Then again, you have to entertain offers for Davis, especially if you can fill multiple positions in return. Therefore, it will be interesting to see who stays and who goes during this off-season.